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Samson: Club focused on improving pace of play

MIAMI -- Getting calls on the field correct is vital, but so is the pace of game, says Marlins president David Samson.

Major League Baseball is planning to adopt expanded replay review next season, which raises concerns that games will be lengthened.

The way Samson sees it, there are positives and negatives to an increased number of replays under a challenge system.

"Instant replay is very complicated," Samson said. "It's very costly, and you can see it delays the game. There is no doubt about it. The most important thing is to get plays right, but you want to get them right in a timely fashion. Our focus in Miami here is pace of game. The games are going too long."

According to MLB figures, nine-inning regular-season games averaged close to 2 hours, 59 minutes. With the stakes higher in the playoffs, postseason games have averaged 3 hours, 22 minutes.

"If we want to engage fans [aged] 18-49, we have to play faster," Samson said. "To do it, there has to be decisions made, and replay has to be like that [a snap]. We've got cameras available. There needs to be a call on the field, a replay, and an overturn within 60 seconds. Period. We're not going to put up with 3 1/2-hour games. Our fans don't want it. We're going to do anything we can."

Game 1 of the World Series featured a rare overturn on a play that was not subject to instant replay.

In the first inning of Boston's 8-1 win over St. Louis, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz grounded to the right of second base. St. Louis was attempting to get a force at second, but shortstop Pete Kozma dropped the ball.

Initially, second-base umpire Dana DeMuth ruled baserunner Dustin Pedroia out, indicating that Kozma had dropped the ball while relaying it from his glove to his throwing hand. The Fenway Park crowd erupted in disbelief, and TV replays clearly showed Kozma never had possession of the ball.

The six umpires huddled and reversed the call.

Commissioner Bud Selig praised the way the umpires handled the situation. Still, the process of getting the call right took more than four minutes.

"I watched the play right away, and it was obvious what happened. So I give the umpires a great deal of credit. I really do. They made the right decision," Selig told reporters at the World Series on Thursday. "The one thing I will say, I time everything. And if you took all the debates, instant replay there would have saved us a lot of time. So they made the right decision there, and I give them a lot of credit. One of them said today in the paper, 'We're supposed to get it right.' And they did."

With advanced replay technology, Samson believes decisions on replays shouldn't last more than 80 seconds, counting the challenge and umpires actually reviewing the TV monitors.

At Marlins Park, Samson said the organization is undergoing an internal study to see where it can shave time off home games. The team is reviewing everything from how often batters step out of the box to pitching changes and substitutions.

"For us, these four-hour games and 3 1/2-hour games, it can't happen," Samson said. "We are studying all of our home games, and we're finding out what can we do to shave our running time. This is a Marlins thing, because I've had it. Our fans have had it."

Samson said if three instances can be found in which 20 seconds each can be found, that trims one minute.

"My goal is to get these games down," Samson said. "There should be 2-hour, 35-minute games. That's what there should be."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro.

Miami Marlins